Simatai – on the Great Wall of China

It’s February 2008, about minus 4 outside and the sun is out. We’ve decided to hit the Great Wall of China at sunset along the ridge at Simatai, about 2 hours drive out of Beijing. Getting a blue sky day in this part of the work is quite hard at times especially when you have to combine it with a weekend day as well. Today we have lucked out with the weather and we ask the driver to come along around 12pm so we can have a quick feed and get on the road. There are also a few places along the way that look photogenic, and if we have time we’ll stop and take a few snaps!

As usual, the plans of mice and men are thwarted by virtue of an excellent feed, which had us all relaxed and sleepy. We hit the road a little later than usual. It’s a good opportunity to chat with friends about our common interest, photography. There’s never enough to be said as in the car this day is quite a variety of equipment both 35mm and Medium Format.

The differences between the two systems are well documented so it’s always an interesting day blending the techniques that the two systems tend to lean towards. I have bought a tripod for my Canon 1Ds Mark III so we’ll be shooting very similarly. My lens choices are the 70-200/2.8 IS and 16-35/2.8 zooms. I bring a 1.4x extender just in case I see an opportunity for a closer composition. Keeping a lighter bag when trekking the Great Wall is well advised. It’s a steep edifice!!

The trip is uneventful (if the manic dodging of cars coming down our side of the road is taken out of the equation) and we get there in one piece. As we round one of the final bends, the moon is noticed over the horizon. It’s really well placed against the profile of the Simatai ridge and we stop right there and take a few images before carrying on to the gate and pay our 40RMB entrance fee.

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